Published March 7, 2023
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About Missing Clarissa
In a gripping novel perfect for fans of Sadie and A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, two best friends start a true crime podcast—only to realize they may have helped a killer in the process.
In August of 1999, dazzlingly popular cheerleader Clarissa Campbell disappears from a party in the woods outside the rural town of Oreville, Washington and is never seen again. The police question her friends, teachers, and the adults who knew her—who all have something to hide. And thanks to Clarissa’s beauty, the mystery captures the attention of the nation. But with no leads and no body, the case soon grows cold. Despite the efforts of internet sleuths and true-crime aficionados, Clarissa is never found—dead or alive.
Over twenty years later, Oreville high-school juniors and best friends Blair and Cameron start a true crime podcast, determined to unravel the story of what—or who—happened to this rural urban legend. In the process they uncover a nest of dirty small-town secrets, the sordid truth of Clarissa’s relationship with her charismatic boyfriend, and a high school art teacher turned small-town figurehead who had a very good reason for wanting Clarissa dead. Such a good reason, in fact, that they might have to make him the highlight of their next episode…
But does an ugly history with a missing girl make him guilty of murder? Or are two teenage girls about to destroy the life of an innocent man—and help the true killer walk free?
One of the things I’m really curious about with this book is why the cover design doesn’t feature the face of Clarissa Campbell, the missing girl. Since the story became largely focused on understanding her and her life, I guess I wondered why her face wasn’t on the cover.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book going in. The cover didn’t give me a lot to go on, but the writing immediately pulled me into the story.
So, the book has an interesting style. It’s primarily from Blair and Cam’s points of view, but in a head-hoppy way. Like, one sentence might be from inside one girl’s head and the next might be inside the other’s. There are a couple brief scenes or paragraphs from other characters’ points of view, too.
It took me a little bit to get used to that style, but I actually enjoyed it once I got a feel for it. I liked both girls. They’re both really different and the kinds of different that makes them a great team.
In terms of the mystery elements, I felt like the story was very well organized. The mystery surrounding Clarissa’s disappearance felt to me like a long thread that Cam and Blair kept pulling and chasing down as it unraveled. It was easy to see their thought processes and how one clue led them to another, but I didn’t find the revelations to be obvious, either, if that makes sense?
All in all, I liked this book a lot. I found the characters compelling, and the mystery captivating. I can totally see fans of SADIE by Courtney Summers or THE AGATHAS by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson loving this one.
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Cam is a lesbian and biracial– white and Latine.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used infrequently.
Kissing between two girls. References to sex. Rumors about a teacher having sex with students.
Cam and Blair learn to shoot at a range. A car runs Cam and Blair’s vehicle off the road at night. A man ties a girl up with a clothesline and tosses her in the basement. A man shoots another man. Someone shoots a man in the knee.
Cam and Blair attend a party in the woods and drink beer there. References to a party in the woods the night Clarissa was last seen where teens drink alcohol.
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